All hail Queen Cookie Lyon of the Empire, whose return from winter hiatus was also a pleasing return to form for Fox's flagship musical drama.
I generally enjoyed Star's first season, despite it being maligned by many critics.
But Empire's spring premiere was a reminder that its little sister show is just that: a little sister who has a lot to learn from her more experienced elder.
Even in its weakest moments, Empire manages to remain addictive thanks to its charismatic performers, catchy musical numbers that would fit right in on pop radio, and of course, enough drama to fill several daytime soap operas.
"Sound & Fury" stuck to that tried-and-true formula. The result was an hour of television that never ceased to entertain, full of moments both hysterically funny and intensely emotional.
On Empire Season 3 Episode 10, Lucious announced his new musical project, Inferno. A fitting name for what is being positioned as the definitive album from the devil himself.
I can't think of a more hilariously satisfying way for Empire to return from its winter break than seeing Lucious emerge from a wall of goofy CGI fire while comparing himself to Bob Marley and Dr. Dre.
The entire announcement was utterly melodramatic and bursting with ego. In other words, perfectly Lucious.
The way the flames glinted in Lucious' eyes and turned them an animalistic shade of orange-yellow made the Lyon patriarch resemble an actual lion more than ever before.
Not only that, we were treated to a bad as hell performance by Remy Ma, whose attitude and style are a perfect fit for Empire. Watching her spit verses was highlight of the episode.
What Marley gave you in Control, and Dre gave you in Chronic, I give you in Inferno.Lucious
I would love to see Remy Ma show up time and again as a supporting character on Empire. Imagine a Remy Ma versus Cookie Lyon showdown. It would be amazing. There would be more shade that a Sunglass Hut.
Not that fabulously fashionable Cookie would ever be seen buying sunglasses from a mall kiosk. But you get the point.
Speaking of Cookie: furious that Lucious went ahead with the Inferno announcement without the blessing of his co-CEO and while his son was still in rehab, Cookie ripped into Lucious in the way that only she can.
Listening to Lucious and Cookie declare war on each other is nothing new; in fact, I nearly found myself yawning as they verbally sparred, poking and prodding at each other's most sensitive places.
Obviously, we want Cookie and Lucious drama; their dysfunctional relationship is the bloody and battered heart of Empire.
However, it needs to move beyond the same basic complaints in order to remain interesting.
Lucious: You might want to start making some plays out of a new playbook. All this is getting very old and very boring.
Cookie: Tiana is a bigger star than Nessa, boo-boo. You ought to be thanking me for bringing more eyeballs to your wack-ass concert.
Fortunately for us, though unfortunately for Cookie, Lucious took it to whole other level when he decided to endorse Angelo's rival for the New York mayoral race, an old white man named John Meeks.
(A fitting surname, as I don't think Meeks spoke a single word as he stood at Lucious' side.)
Watching a black hip-hop mogul who earned his street cred on the wrong side of the tracks in Philly attempt to endorse the kind of man who would have crossed the street to avoid him if he wasn't immensely wealthy was pretty rich.
Lucious is so desperate to destroy his rival for Cookie's love that he even offered a monetary reward for evidence that could put Angelo behind bars for his alleged DUI many years ago.
How's that for a shot? Hit any vital organs?Cookie [to Lucious]
While his plan to take down Angelo appears to have stalled for now, one knows that Lucious has plenty of other dirty tricks up his sleeve.
One such dirty trick? Having Thirsty, with a reluctant Becky along for the ride, kidnap his jail buddy's mother so that they could intimidate him into not testifying against Lucious.
I like the Thirsty-Becky team-up. I don't want Becky to venture too far down a criminal road, but I do think she needs to learn how to fight a little bit dirty when the occasion calls for it.
Becky is a talented rising A&R executive who deserves to be taken seriously at Empire, but too often she allows other people to walk all over her.
The music industry is cutthroat, but Becky is unwilling to spill any blood. That attitude, while it may technically be the right one, is not going to help her get to the top – especially at a place like Empire.
This past year, I've been attacked from all sides. Gangsters, feds -- even family.Lucious
Hopefully, Thirsty can teach Becky a few tricks about standing up for herself and getting what she wants – ideally, without getting arrested.
One thing Becky did want was to get annoying Xavier out of her hair. Thirsty took care of that for her by planting evidence that got him fired. Unfortunately, instead of giving Becky Xavier's old position as head of A&R, Lucious gave it to Anika.
And never mind Inferno – that was when things really went up in flames.
Unable to deal with Lucious giving creative control to her old rival, especially after he talked up Anika as his longtime muse and inspiration, Cookie set out to destroy the symbols of Lucious' success.
Taraji P. Henson spent her winter break doing the awards circuit for Hidden Figures, the brilliant Oscar-nominated movie about the women mathematicians at NASA who helped launch John Glenn into orbit.
Lucious did all of that, just for you. That's a twisted kind of love, man.Jamal [to Cookie]
Henson's starring role as Katherine G. Johnson was the complete antithesis of Cookie and a reminder of how talented and multifaceted a performer she is. One can easily take Henson for granted on Empire because she makes playing Cookie look easy.
But, in "Sound & Fury," Henson showed us the heartbreak hidden beneath Cookie's tough exterior. It was a tour de force performance that fueled one of my favorite scenes in Empire's three seasons so far.
Cookie stormed into Lucious' lair looking super fine in a broad-shouldered green blouse and matching ruffled pencil skirt. I was just about as green as the outfit with envy for it. Then, she took a baseball bat and smashed everything to pieces.
As Cookie went all Beyonce-in-Lemonade on Lucious' gold records, awards and piano, she tearfully reminded him of how much she had sacrificed for his success. How it was her DNA, not Anika's, that was evident in everything Empire.
Even as she forcefully wielded the bat, this was by far the most vulnerable we've ever seen Cookie.
I did seventeen years for this family. You built this company on my back. And you're just going to give it to that bitch?Cookie [to Lucious]
The way Lucious essentially pushed everything she had done for him – including seventeen years in prison – under the rug for the sake of her rival was just too much for this strong woman to bear.
But of course, because this is Cookie and Lucious, the fight to the death turned into a passionate embrace. Fortunately, Cookie put a stop to things before they went too far.
The love between Cookie and Lucious might have become toxic, but it's still pretty difficult to kill. We'll see how that plays out this season.
In other news, Jamal met a fellow musician and rehab and started working out his issues in song. Said musician was Tory Ash, played by Rumer Willis as an Amy Winehouse type, all tattoos and smoky voice and heroin addiction.
From what Jamal's told me, I'm surprised all your little Lyon cubs aren't in rehab.Tory [to Cookie]
I enjoyed watching Tory spar with Cookie; I think it will be beneficial to Jamal to have another strong woman in his life, one who might give him more strength when it comes to standing up to his mother.
Cookie has always been supportive and protective of Jamal, but sometimes he needs to do his own thing, and I think working with Tory will help bring that out in him. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of Tory this season.
The other Lyon siblings continued to battle each other for the spotlight, culminating in a crazy catfight between Nessa and Tiana. My favorite part of that scene was Shyne urging his sister on in the background. It was pretty hilarious.
Oh, and Andre still plans on working with Shyne to kill Lucious, though it remains to be seen how they'll go about doing that.
While Lucious is making inferno, we'll be making moves. Mounting an army.Andre [to Shyne]
All in all, an ideally Empire way to start the second half of the season. But what did you think of "Sound & Fury"?
Do you think Jamal is ready to leave rehab and make music again? Will Hakeem and Tiana be able to take down Ness and Andre? And are Lucious and Cookie meant to be together after all?
Remember, you can always watch Empire online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.